Joyce/K0JJW and I did another activation of Mt Herman (W0C/FR-063) today. This is a repeat summit for us this year but we were looking for an easy hike not too far from home.
As usual, we were just using the VHF/UHF bands for the activation. My favorite rig for this type of SOTA activation is a Yaesu FT-90, a very compact mobile transceiver (4 x 1.2 x 5.4 inches) that is no longer manufactured. It has a unique heatsink with an integral fan that can handle the heat from the 50-watt transmitter. We use a Bioenno 4.5 Ah LFP battery to supply the power for the radio.
I was trying to work Bob/W0BV about 65 miles away and we were not able to complete the contact. The distance is not too difficult but there are several mountain ranges in the way. Sometimes we can get the electromagnetic waves to sneak through, but not today. Hiking down the mountain, I was thinking about how we could have probably made the QSO on SSB or CW, instead of FM. I chose not to bring the all-mode transceiver (FT-817) along today, so that was not an option.
That is when the idea hit me. The FT-90 is the right form-factor and power level for VHF/UHF SOTA but it is limited to FM. Yaesu, if you are listening, here’s what I’d really like to see in a small mobile transceiver:
- FT-90 size radio, perhaps a little larger but not much
- 2m and 70 cm bands (include 1.25m if you’d like)
- At least 25 watts of output power, more would be better (say 50 watts)
- All mode capability (CW/SSB/FM/Digital), sure go ahead and toss C4FM in too.
- No internal battery…I’m going to have to use an external battery anyway to get enough battery capacity
At various times, I have had people ask “why don’t they put SSB in handheld radios?” They recognize that SSB has weak-signal advantages over FM, so they wish their handheld transceiver (HT) could do it. I say rather than shove more features into an HT, put it in an FT-90 size radio. It would be a much more usable solution.
Although I arrived at this radio concept thinking about SOTA, it would also be a great mobile rig for general use. The FT-90 was popular because it was very compact AND it had a removable faceplate that could be mounted almost anywhere. There really is no way to get VHF/UHF SSB into a vehicle other than those all-band radios like the FT-857 and the IC-7100. Oh, did I say FT-857? Sorry, that model has been discontinued. The satellite operators will love it, too, especially if it could work 2m/70cm crossband full-duplex.
So there you go, Yaesu (or Icom)…a fantastic product concept at no charge. I would be happy to beta test it for you.
That’s my idea for today. What do you think?
73 Bob K0NR